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Archive for December, 2012

Invest in Yourself in 2013 (at the Lowest Rate Ever)

Monday, December 31st, 2012

To celebrate the coming of the New Year I am making the best offer to come on board that I have ever offered.  It is time limited.  Don’t miss out.

Invest in Yourself in 2013 (at the Lowest Rate Ever)

The presents are unwrapped.  The New Year is upon us.  Start it out right by doing something really good for yourself, and your loved ones. 

The beginning of the year is a traditional time for resolutions and goal-setting.  It is a perfect time to do some serious thinking about your financial future.

I believe that the best investment you can ever make is to invest in yourself, no matter what your financial situation might be.  Learning a stock option investment strategy is a low-cost way to do just that.

As our New Year’s gift to you, we are offering our service at the lowest price in the history of our company.      If you ever considered becoming a Terry’s Tips Insider, this would be the absolutely best time to do it.  Read on…

Don’t you owe it to yourself to learn a system that carries a very low risk and could gain 36% a year as many of our portfolios have done?

So what’s the investment?  I’m suggesting that you spend a small amount to get a copy of my 70-page (electronic) White Paper, and devote some serious early-2013 hours studying the material. 

And now for the Special Offer – If you make this investment in yourself by midnight, January 9, 2013, this is what happens:

For a one-time fee of only $39.95, you receive the White Paper (which normally costs $79.95 by itself), which explains my two favorite option strategies in detail, 20 “Lazy Way” companies with a minimum 100% gain in 2 years, mathematically guaranteed, if the stock stays flat or goes up, plus the following services :

1) Two free months of the Terry’s Tips Stock Options Tutorial Program, (a $49.90 value).  This consists of 14 individual electronic tutorials delivered one each day for two weeks, and weekly Saturday Reports which provide timely Market Reports, discussion of option strategies, updates and commentaries on 8 different actual option portfolios, and much more. 

2) Emailed Trade Alerts.  I will email you with any trades I make at the end of each trading day, so you can mirror them if you wish (or with our Premium Service, you will receive real-time Trade Alerts as they are made for even faster order placement or Auto-Trading with a broker).  These Trade Alerts cover all 8 portfolios we conduct.

3) If you choose to continue after two free months of the Options Tutorial Program, do nothing, and you’ll be billed at our discounted rate of $19.95 per month (rather than the regular $24.95 rate).

4) Access to the Insider’s Section of Terry’s Tips, where you will find many valuable articles about option trading, and several months of recent Saturday Reports and Trade Alerts.

5) A FREE special report “How We Made 100% on Apple in 2010-11 While AAPL Rose Only 25%”. This report is a good example of how our Shoot Strategy works for individual companies that you believe are headed higher.

With this one-time offer, you will receive all of these benefits for only $39.95, less than the price of the White Paper alone. I have never made an offer better than this in the twelve years I have published Terry’s Tips.  But you must order by midnight on January 9, 2013.  Click here, choose “White Paper with Insider Membership”, and enter Special Code 2013 (or 2013P for Premium Service – $79.95).

Investing in yourself is the most responsible New Year’s Resolution you could make for 2013.  I feel confident that this offer could be the best investment you ever make in yourself.

Happy New Year!  I hope 2013 is your most prosperous ever.  I look forward to helping you get 2013 started right by sharing this valuable investment information with you. 

P.S.  If you would have any questions about this offer or Terry’s Tips, please call Seth Allen, our Senior Vice President at 800-803-4595.  Or make this investment in yourself at the lowest price ever offered in our 8 years of publication – only $39.95 for our entire package – using Special Code 2013 (or 2013P for Premium Service – $79.95).

The Perfect Way to Play the Apple Earnings Announcement

Monday, December 24th, 2012

Apple (AAPL) options continue to fascinate me.  Today I would like to discuss a set of calendar spreads designed to capitalize on the escalating AAPL option prices that will come into play when Weeklys which expire just after the January earnings announcement become available. Those Weeklys will come on the scene on the Thursday before the January 2013 options expire the next day.

Check it out.

The Perfect Way to Play the Apple Earnings Announcement

Apple (AAPL) is due to announce earnings on January 22, 2013 (although this is currently unconfirmed). A year ago they announced earnings on Tuesday, January 24, 2012 just after the monthly options expired. The January 22, 2013 date would be consistent with that pattern. Of course, this is the big quarter when iPhone 5 and the iPad Mini results will be known for the first time.

A year ago the market responded favorably to the announcement and the stock moved $26 higher on the news (and then continued to move up more slowly for several months).

Who knows what will happen this time around?  I sure don’t, although I expect it will be higher than it is today.  I have devised a strategy for those of us who really don’t know where Apple will end up a month from now. 
My strategy is fully explained in a Seeking Article I published yesterday –

The Perfect Way to Play the Apple Earnings Announcement

The key thing to remember here is to buy calendar spreads at a variety of strike prices to increase the odds that the stock ends up near one of those strikes during the second half of January.

Happy trading.

An Interesting Bet on Apple

Monday, December 17th, 2012

Today I would like to share an actual spread I placed in my personal account today.  It is a simple bet that come January 18, 2013, Apple will be trading at some price above $500.  As I write this, AAPL is at $513.

This little bet will make 62% after commissions at any ending price above $500.  It doesn’t have to go up a penny to make this much in a single month.  In fact, it can fall $13 and the same gain will come my way.
Check it out.

An Interesting Bet on Apple

One of the biggest stock market mysteries I have ever experienced in 30 years of trading almost every day has been the recent implosion of Apple stock.  For years, I was on the lookout for companies whose P/E ratio was less than its growth rate.

Two months ago when AAPL was trading north of $700, its growth rate was more than double the P/E ratio (not even adjusting for cash), even taking the traditionally-conservative company projections for next quarter.  Opportunities like this are quite rare in the investment world, at least they have been in the past.

Since that time the stock has fallen nearly $200.  I was not alone in my surprise at such a drop.  The average price target for 48 analysts is $750.  How can so many presumably smart (and well-informed) people be so horribly wrong?  Maybe they aren’t, at least in the longer run.

Trying to catch the bottom of a falling stock has been compared to catching a knife dropped from a great height (with your bare hands, of course).  I must admit that I have made several attempts to catch a bottom over the past two months, and my portfolio value has dropped right along with the stock.  It has been a painful time for us Apple bulls.

But now I think the bottom is finally here.  From a technical standpoint, there seems to be a strong resistance point at $505.  I’m not much of a technical indicator guy, but so many people are that sometimes you just have to follow their lead.  It has come close to $505 a couple of weeks ago, rose sharply, and then retreated to test that level once again last week, and has since recovered a bit.

Much of the recent sell-off has been attributed to tax-related selling.  If a person had a huge gain in the stock (and anyone who has bought it in earlier years surely has), it might be better to sell your shares in 2012 to avoid what looks like a higher long-term capital gains rate that may be instituted in 2013.  Many people are expected the rate to increase from 15% to at least 25% next year.  That would make it a good time to take some profits.

Anyone who sold AAPL for tax reasons probably still likes the stock (after all, it did give them a big win) and may buy it back once they read about millions of new iPhone 5 sales at Christmas and in China (and now, even at Wal-Mart) and anticipate what those sales might mean to earnings.

There are many other reasons that the stock should be trading higher in 2013.  It usually spikes higher in advance of the January earnings announcement which should come just after the January options expire.  When the announcement is made, the P/E ratio will surely be even lower than it is today since this will be the first quarter when the iPhone 5 results are in (the most profitable Apple product, and the biggest problem has been making it fast enough to keep up with the demand).

So here’s the little bet I made that Apple will be trading at some point higher than $500 on January 18, 2013:

I bought AAPL Jan-13 495 puts and sold Jan-13 500 puts, collecting $195 per spread, or $192 after commissions (in options lingo, I sold a vertical put spread).  If the stock closes at any price below $495, I will have to buy the spread back for $500 and I will lose $308 (the maximum risk I am taking).

My broker will issue a maintenance requirement for $500 per spread (this is not a loan like a margin requirement, but $500 per spread will have to be set aside in the account).  Since I collected $192, my actual net charge will be $308.  By the way, this kind of a spread is allowed in IRA accounts at most brokerages, including thinkorswim.

At any price above $500, both options will expire worthless, no commissions will be due, and I will make a gain of $192 on my maximum risk of $308.  That works out to about 62% on my money at risk.  Not bad for one month.

Of course, you should not take this risk with money you can’t afford to lose.


All About Back Spreads

Sunday, December 9th, 2012

Back spreads and ratio spreads are usually discussed together because they are simply the mirror image of each other. Back spreads and ratio spreads are comprised of either both calls or both puts at two different strike prices in the same expiration month. If the spread has more long contracts than short contracts, it is a Back Spread. If there are more short contracts, it is a Ratio Spread.
Since ratio spreads involve selling “naked” (i.e., uncovered by another long option) they can’t be used in an IRA.  For that reason, and because we like to sleep better at night knowing that we are not naked short and could possibly lose more than our original investment, we do not trade ratio spreads at Terry’s Tips.

Back spreads involve selling one option and buying a greater quantity of an option with a more out-of-the-money strike. The options are either both calls or both puts.
A typical back spread using calls might consist of buying 10 at-the-money calls and selling 5 in-the-money calls at a strike low enough to buy the entire back spread at a credit. 
Ideally, you collect a credit when you set up a back spread.  Since the option you are buying is less expensive than the one you are buying, it is always possible to set up the back spread at a credit.  You would like as many extra long positions as possible to maximize your gains if the underlying makes a big move in the direction you are betting. 
If you are wrong and the underlying moves in the opposite direction that you originally hoped, if you had set up the back spread at a net credit at the beginning, all of your options will expire worthless and you will be able to keep the original credit as pure profit (after paying commissions on the original trades, of course).
Call back spreads work best when the stock price makes a large move up; put back spreads work best when the stock price makes a large move down.
One of the easiest ways to think about a back spread is as a vertical with some extra long options. A call back spread is a bear vertical (typically a short call vertical) plus extra long call options at the higher of the two strikes. A put back spread is a bull vertical (typically a short put vertical) plus extra long put options at the lower of the two strikes.
The purpose of a back spread is to profit on a quick extended move toward, through and beyond the long strike. The purchase of a quantity of more long options is financed by the sale of fewer short options. The danger is that because the short options are usually in the money, they might grow faster than the long out-of-the-money options if the stock price moves more slowly or with less magnitude than expected. This happens even faster as expiration approaches. The long out-of-the-money options may lose value despite a favorable move in the stock price, and that same move in the stock price may increase the value of the short options. This is when the back spread loses value most quickly. This is depicted in the “valley” of the risk profile graphs. The greatest loss in the graph occurs at exactly the strike price of the long options.

There are two reasons that I personally don’t like back spreads.  First, they are negative theta.  That means you lose money on your positions every day that nothing much happens to the underlying strike price. 

Second, and more importantly, the gains you make in the good time periods are inconsequential compared to the large losses you could incur in the other time periods.  If the stock moves in the opposite way you are hoping, you end up making a very small gain (the initial credit you collected when the positions were originally placed).  If the underlying doesn’t move much, your losses could be huge.  On the other hand, in order for you to make large gains when the market moves in the direction you hope it will, the move must be very large before significant gains come about.

Here is the risk profile graph for a back spread on SPY (buying 10 Dec-12 142 calls for $1.55 and selling 6 Dec-12 140 calls for $2.78 when SPY was trading at $142.20 and there were two weeks until expiration):

You have about $1100 at risk (the $1200 maintenance requirement less the $115 credit (after commissions) you collected at the outset.  If the stock falls by more than $2.20 so that all the calls expire worthless, you would gain the $115 credit.  If the stock moves higher by $2, you would lose just about that same amount.  It would have to move $2.20 higher before a gain could be expected on the upside, and every dollar the stock moved higher from there would result in a $400 gain (the number of extra calls you own).

The big problem is that if the stock doesn’t do much of anything, you stand to lose about $1000, a far greater loss than most of the scenarios when a gain could be expected.  In order for you to make $1000 with these positions, the stock would have to go up by $5 in the two-week period.  Of course, that happens once in a great while, but probably less than 10% of the time.  There there is a much greater likelihood of its moving less than $2 in either direction (and a loss would occur at any point within that range).

Bottom line, back spreads might be considered if you have a strong feeling that the underlying stock might move strongly in one direction or another, but I believe that there are other more promising directional strategies such as vertical spreads, calendar or diagonal spreads, or even straddles or strangles that make more sense to me.

Black Swan Insurance

Monday, December 3rd, 2012

This week I wrote an article for Seeking Alpha which describes an option portfolio that bets on VIX moving higher as uncertainty grows over the looming fiscal cliff.  The best part of the deal is that the options will make about a 50% gain even if VIX doesn’t go up a bit over the next three weeks until the options expire.
Please read this important article as it could show you a way to provide extremely good protection against you other investments should the market take a big dive this month.

Black Swan Insurance
Here’s the link:

Black Swan Insurance That Might Pay Off Even If There Is No Crash

This is a very simple strategy that involvBlack Swan Insurance That Might Pay Off Even If There Is No Crashes buying in-the-money Dec-12 13 calls and selling a smaller number of Dec-12 16 calls.  You are setting up a vertical spread for some of the calls and holding several calls uncovered long.  The 13 calls have essentially no time premium in them and the 16 calls have a lot of time premium since they are very close to the money.

The only scenario where these positions lose money is if VIX falls much below 15 when the options expire on December 19.  For its entire history, VIX has traded below 15 on only a few rare occasions, and it always moved higher shortly thereafter.

If VIX does get down close to 15 as expiration nears, additional calls might be sold against the uncovered long calls you own, maybe at the 15 strike..  This would expand the downside break-even range about a half a dollar.

There are a few things that you should know about trading VIX options. Weekly options are not available.  You are restricted to the regular monthly option series.  Even more restricting, calendar spreads and diagonal spreads are not allowed in VIX options because the underlying entity is a derivative rather than an actual stock.  You are pretty much restricted to vertical or back spreads unless you want to post a large maintenance requirement.

In spite of these limitations, VIX options are a lot better than VXX if you want to buy portfolio insurance.  VXX suffers from contango dilution most of the time while VIX fluctuates independent of any such headwinds.


Making 36%

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Success Stories

I have been trading the equity markets with many different strategies for over 40 years. Terry Allen's strategies have been the most consistent money makers for me. I used them during the 2008 melt-down, to earn over 50% annualized return, while all my neighbors were crying about their losses.

~ John Collins